On 22 December, 2017, three MPs namely, Bhartruhari Mahtab, Rahul Ramesh Shewale and Sanjay Shamrao Dhotre asked an unstarred question regarding surface water pollution from the Union Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change in the Lok Sabha: (a) whether the Government has made any assessment/ conducted any study to ascertain the pollution level of surface water in the country;
(b) if so, the details and the outcome thereof and if not, the reasons therefor;
(c) whether an International Organisation viz., Water Aid has given any remarks regarding pollution level of India’s surface water in the recent past and if so, the details thereof along with the reaction of the Government thereto;
(d) whether the Government proposes any comprehensive policy to deal with water pollution in the country and if so, the details thereof with the time by which it is likely to be implemented in the country; and
(e) the other steps taken/being taken by the Government to keep a check on water pollution in the country?
The Minister of State In the Ministry Of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr. Mahesh Sharma replied, “Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) and Pollution Control Committees are monitoring river water quality at 1275 locations which indicate that there are 302 polluted river stretches, which is primarily due to discharge of untreated municipal sewage and industrial effluent.
Water Aid has not under taken any independent assessment of surface water pollution in India and its report is based on assessment of CPCB and other organizations.
Government has taken a number of steps to control river pollution which include control of industrial pollution under the provisions of Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution), Act, 1974; river action plans for interception, diversion and treatment of sewage; establishment of continuous water quality monitoring systems; directions to the SPCBs under Section 18(1)(b) of the Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act,1974 to direct concerned agencies in the State/UT to develop infrastructure for sewage treatment; consent management for compliance of standards by SPCBs/PCCs to improve water quality of the rivers with respect to industrial effluents; directions under Section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 regarding treatment and utilization of sewage for restoration of water quality of rivers.